When I first heard about the Merlin Passes some time ago I went to the site, saw the price and thought no way! I didn’t really look into it properly until this year as I knew we wouldn’t be going abroad but I wanted to make the school holidays fun for the girls.
So after Christmas 2015 I started researching them, plus they were on sale.
The Merlin Annual Pass allows you entry into all the Merlin attractions for 12 months. These attractions include theme parks such as Alton Towers, the Sea Life centres, Madame Tussauds and even the Blackpool Tower and London Eye. Currently, in total there are 32 places you can visit.
There are different types of passes you can purchase with the main two being Standard and Premium. The differences being that there are date restrictions with the Standard and car parking is not included. With the premium you also get perks such as money off fast track vouchers to use at some theme parks.
So are they actually worth it?
We decided to go for the premium pass as we wanted to be able to use it in August – with the standard you can’t. In addition to this car parking at most attractions is included with the premium pass.
So far we have been to a number of Sea Life centres: Manchester, Hunstanton and Birmingham and Blackpool.
We have also been to Blackpool, using our passes to see the Blackpool Circus, The Tower Ballroom, The Blackpool Tower itself and also Madame Tussauds. We could have also used it for Blackpool Dungeon but were worried about the girls getting frightened.
In London we have used them to see Shrek’s Adventure, Madame Tussauds, London Eye (premium pass gives you fast track access) and London Aquarium. Again we avoided the London dungeon due to the girls being easily scared. Your pass also gives you a discount on a river cruise; we didn’t have time for that but planning to return soon.
We have also been to Legoland discovery centre in Manchester, Warwick Castle and Alton Towers and are still planning to go to Legoland London, Thorpe Park and Chessington.
We have clearly made our money back already.
Not only do you get to go to all the attractions, the passes give you discounts in the shops and on food in certain venues. You can also get discounted prices if you are planning to stay in the resort or nearby hotels that are part of the scheme. Furthermore if you decide to purchase the photos taken at some of the attractions you will get a discount on those.
One of the perks of our pass was that we could take friends and family for £10 each. Each pass gave us 3 of these vouchers and we have so far taken my nieces to Alton Towers and Warwick castle with us. Note the new discounted rate will be £15 from 13th October 2016.
So how much have we saved?
1 premium pass, at the family rate and in the sale (January 2016) cost me: £119
Cost of attractions that we have been to so far with on the day prices are:
Alton Towers: £51.60
Sea life Birmingham: £20.95
Sea life Manchester: £16.95
Sea life Hunstanton: £16.60
Sea life Blackpool: £16.50
London Eye: Flexi fast track from £34.95
Shreks Adventure: £27
London Aquarium: £25 (anytime priority ticket)
Madame Tussauds London: Priority entrance online ticket £50
Madame Tussauds Blackpool: £16.50
Warwick Castle: £25.20
Blackpool Tower and Circus: £26
Blackpool Tower Ballroom £9.95 but if you want afternoon tea for 2 then £50
Manchester Legoland Discovery Centre: £14 (approx)
Grand total: £351.20
(Note prices are the full maximum in most cases – purchasing online in advance usually gives you a better price, and there are often deals about – however the Merlin Pass clearly still gives you really good value for money).
And we still have a number of places left to visit!
So no doubt at all it is worth it…and you have a whole 12 months in which to fit everything in! For just under £500 for the whole family we have already experienced so much and saved so much in the process.